Laura was sent by her father to the convent so that her older sister Beatrice would have a bigger dowry and he could marry her off to a powerful man who could get him in the Grand Council of Venice. She was happy to leave the convent behind but when she gets home to their now decaying Palazzo she never expected to find Beatrice in a simple wood coffin and her father telling her she must take Beatrice's place and marry Vincenzo. She had often thought that her sister was the lucky one, finding her perfect match and attending all those parties but now that she's in her sister's footsteps, she realized just how desperate her sister must've been before her death.
Sasha Gould writes melodiously and elegantly, bringing Venice in all its sensuality to life. Laura, having spent so many years in the convent is at once naive and trusting. She had trusted the women of La Segreta to help stop her marriage to Vincenzo in exchange for betraying the secret of the most powerful man in Venice, only to find out that she is forever bound to them. As a character, she is likable, she is but a commodity to her gold digger prodigal father, but she will still marry Vincenzo for him, although I liked her more when she has learned to stand up to him. And when the women of La Segreta helped her by driving Vincenzo out of the city, she still felt sorry for this cruel and disgusting old man and admits to herself the mistake she has done.
I thought the mystery of Beatrice's death was well done, there were a lot of good murder suspects! At one point I thought Beatrice had betrayed La Segreta and paid with her life then changed my mind and thought it was definitely another character who murdered her to protect his secret. And I liked that you never really know if La Segreta has a good or evil purpose. Would they use Laura's secret to topple the Doge and take the power?
Another aspect of the story I liked is the buoyant love story, with some cute moments, and I understand how Laura could have fallen fast with this handsome young painter who has shown a lot of interest on her after being stuck in a convent for so many years were the only interest she has been getting is that from the Abbess - but not that hard, and I don't know how the painter could've fallen in love with her through Beatrice, how could that happen when all Beatrice has of Laura were their childhood memories and there isn't really anything going on in the convent that could make him fall for her.
I just want to say one last thing. Before reading the book I thought that the cover was gorgeous but after reading it, I discovered that Laura's mask should've been a white swan, and I was disappointed! Nevertheless, Cross my Heart is something I would recommend to those looking for a good historical romance in the YA genre.